The ME Undergraduate Program culminates in a two-semester, Capstone Senior Design course sequence.
Throughout the Capstone Design Program experience the students work in teams on a project assigned to them, usually one of their top three choices. Projects typically originate from industry, non-profits, and private individuals, or from sources internal to the University (e.g. research or educational). Industry projects are highly desirable for their direct relevance to practice and the “real” world. Teams are often interdisciplinary depending on project needs.
The ME Capstone Design Program involves two consecutive courses (e.g. ME4243 & ME4202) and emphasizes both the design process and the delivery of a successful engineered, tested and validated outcome. Nevertheless, because the focus is on students’ education a successful outcome is emphasized but not guaranteed.
During the first semester of the Capstone cycle (the Fall semester in ME4243) the student teams gain understanding of the project scope, formulate engineering specifications, develop conceptual solutions and designs, go through a concept analysis and selection process, carry out the necessary engineering analyses and arrive at a final proposed prototype design complete with engineering manufacturing drawings. This proposed prototype design is presented to a panel of expert professionals who provide assessment and critique, and the student team submits a final report at the close of the semester.
In the second semester of the cycle (the Spring semester in ME4202) the student teams proceed with physical realization and testing of their designs and at the end they deliver an engineered, tested and validated product, which they defend in front of the same panel of expert professionals. A final comprehensive report is then submitted by each team documenting their built and tested prototype along with the associated design, realization and testing processes. Failure to deliver a finished prototype adhering to specifications by the end of the cycle may result in failing the course. In order to avoid this, any non-compliance with specifications must be explained and viable solutions to address its root causes must be proposed.
In their journey through this two-course program and in addition to the conceptual and technical issues in design, the students have to deal with the challenges of teamwork, leadership, project and budget management, estimation, procurement, redesigns, as well as hands-on manufacturing and communications of all forms with their clients, technical support staff, vendors, supervisors, and the public.